When it comes to marketing and branding we tend to think about big strategic issues. Who we are trying to reach. What our messaging is. How can we best communicate how we are different. But maybe we should also start thinking about moments.

That is the premise from a new book by Chip & Dan Heath, The Power of Moments. They are also the authors of Switch and Made to Stick, two business book classics. But The Power of Moments is by far their best work. The book is a must read not only for executives but also for mid managers (especially branch managers).

They begin with the principle that we all have defining moments in our lives—meaningful experiences that stand out in our memory. These moments very much shape our lives.

They note, “We tend to remember flagship moments: the peaks, the pits and the transitions. This is a critical lesson for anyone in the service business—from restaurants to medical clinics to call centers to spas—where success hinges on the customer experience.” And let’s be clear: credit unions and banks are very much in the service business.

They go on to clarify that, “A defining moment is a short experience that is both memorable and meaningful. The point here is simple: some moments are vastly more meaningful than others.”

Below are three principles from the book and how we can apply them in the financial services world. For more details and ideas be sure to pick up a copy of The Power of Moments.

(1) We can create defining moments

We may tend to think that key moments in our lives just happen. The Heath brothers disagree. They say, “Defining moments shape our lives, but we don’t have to wait for them to happen. We can be authors of them.” So why would your credit union, bank or even branch want to create defining moments for consumers? To take that member or customer experience to the next level.

  • Application: Review your experience strategy and map your member/customer journey. Answer the questions, “How easy is it for consumers to do business with us?” and “What is it like to do business with our financial institution?” This means every single touchpoint: your branches, your call center, your website, your live chat, your mobile application. Look for ways to make those processes not just transactions but memorable moments.

(2) Retail banking has many missed moments

At the end of the book’s first section, the authors actually call out the banking industry and state that retail banking has missed many moments. They note, “The point is that banks miss countless opportunities to boost customer loyalty by creating moments, and the lack of attention to these moments contradicts banks’ talk about building strong relationships with clients.” These lifestyle moments that involve financial services include buying a house, the first paycheck, purchasing a vehicle, getting married, or handling a parents’ affairs after their death.

  • Application: Brainstorm the various milestone moments consumers experience and how financial issues are involved (see the above list for a starting point). Then create a separate list for action items your credit union or bank can take to make those moments more memorable for consumers (for example, when someone gets their auto loan with you, maybe give them a “new car kit” with items such as free car wash coupons, an ice scraper, a key chain, etc. Learn to “think in moments.”                                                                                                        

(3) We need to obsess over every detail

Details matter. Especially when it comes to creating defining moments for consumers. As the Heath brothers say, “To please customers, you need to obsess over every detail.” When it comes to branding (and moments) everything matters. How you answer the phone matters. How your new hires start their first day matters. How the restrooms in your branches smell matters. There is no way to make moments magical unless you pay a great deal of attention to every single detail.

  • Application: Conduct a marketing audit. A marketing doesn’t refer to the compliance side of marketing. Rather the best marketing audits dive deeply into your strategies, your tactics and your experiences. For example, our marketing audit process includes a thorough review of the customer journey, the branch facilities (yes, we do a bathroom “smell” test) and your employee engagement along with many other elements.                                                                                                                             

Those are just a few key points from three of the themes in The Power of Moments. This is a “must read” for any financial banking executive. In fact, if you really apply its lessons, the book can positively change your credit union or bank in a number of ways because it teaches you how to impact consumers and stand out through moments.

If you want to strengthen your credit union or bank’s consumer experience then I highly suggest you read The Power of Moments.